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This blog was originally posted on February 6, 2015 on the SAP Business Innovation blog site

Some revolutions are said to be made of velvet; others happen behind closed doors.  Today, the steadily advancing revolution that is sweeping through manufacturing shop floors across the world is made of zeroes and ones – happening in plain sight.  Easily quantifiable, effortlessly tracked, and completely transparent, this rebellion is producing change as dramatic as any major industrial revolution, comparable to the advent of the assembly line in the automotive industry or the jet engine in the aerospace sector.

Enter the industrial Internet of Things revolution

Referred to as the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), the phenomenon is intended to streamline the flow of information, enabling real-time decisions and connecting people, machines, products, and services.  Analysts predict there will be 75 billion connected machines operating within the IIoT by 2020.

As technologies advance, industrial machinery and components (IM&C) manufacturers increasingly tap into the IIoT when they collaborate along the value chain to develop new revenue streams by providing holistic solutions that deliver real value to customers.

Companies in the IM&C sector are finding they need solutions that help:

  • Minimize research and development (R&D) costs and compress time to market
  • Sell individually-tailored, highly-configured custom solutions quickly, accurately, and profitably
  • Balance supply and demand with responsive and global network optimization processes
  • Manufacture high-quality compliant solutions via a flexible and global solution provider network
  • Service original equipment with predictive analysis of Big Data using the IIoT

The IIoT can streamline the flow of information, enable real-time decisions, and enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty by connecting people, machines, products, and services across the world.

Industrial companies are beginning to get a glimpse of the benefits possible by delivering real-time visibility that accurately depicts manufacturing shop floor operations.  IM&C manufacturers often know exactly where they want to go in regard to the IIoT, but sometimes they don’t know exactly how to get there.

The latest technology innovations make it possible to predict supply disruptions or production issues before they become serious problems.  Improved safety, quality, and compliance performance are all achievable leveraging solutions specifically designed to support the IIoT.

The tracking and sharing of data in a transparent manner represents the spirit in which the IIoT was created.  Companies that can venture beyond the four walls of their manufacturing plant will be rewarded for their openness and proactivity in the digital realm.  Traditionally, manufacturers had a tendency to hold onto things, to covet, or to obscure information in the name of competitive differentiation and intellectual property protection.  When companies act this way, they believe they will empower themselves, but it usually turns out to be just the opposite.  Open code, for instance, has proven itself as an enduring, formidable, and viable way of advancing technology.

The world of industrial manufacturing will be significantly transformed in the coming years, so it is essential that companies in this market explore the wide array of new technologies available to them.

By moving away from a closed mindset and choosing to integrate processes in a more open environment, industrial companies can spend more time on the competitive differentiating aspects that are core to their businesses and less time carefully hoarding stashes of independent spreadsheets, fostering 20th Century closed silos instead of 21st Century open communities.

Pooling data into a singular system accessible by all internal departments and external customers, suppliers, and partners along the IIoT spectrum provides a sustained level of transparency that helps slash waste and boost profitability for all stakeholders.  As IM&C companies surrender their cumbersome paper-based systems and embrace the digital frontier, they will discover that running in a simpler, leaner way not only feels liberating, but also connects them to networks in ways they didn’t even know they were missing.

Having served the market for more than 40 years, SAP has 8,000+ IM&C customers in more than 160 different countries, and drives the largest industrial manufacturing ecosystem of customers, partners, and employees in the world.

To discover how SAP is helping create the future of business in the digital information age across other industries, please download the CEO Perspective on the Internet of ThingsLearn how to Run Simple across industries with SAP.

Please follow us on Twitter @SAPIndustries for the latest updates, and visit us at the SAP Community Network.  We also invite you to join our Industrial Machinery and Components ASUG Special Interest Group.